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Tamil Selvan Chandru

Senior Adviser - Newton Fund India

Part of Global Science and Innovation Network UK in India

8th June 2018 Delhi, India

Witnessing the future of innovation policy

As the member of the UK government’s team in New Delhi tasked with building collaborations between the UK and India on Science, Technology and Innovation through the Newton-Bhabha Fund, a central part of my job is to build connections between UK and Indian innovation communities.

So I was delighted that at the end of May 2018 I was able to travel to London to join nine very senior policymakers and influencers from India’s central Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology and Maharashtra’s State Government took part in the opening of the Indian iteration of the Global Innovation Policy Accelerator. The Policy Accelerator is an executive development programme seeking to build a global network of innovation policy entrepreneurs. It is funded by the Newton-Bhabha Fund through innovation agency Innovate UK and is delivered by a Nesta-led consortium of UK organisations, with local support from the Centre for Technology, Innovation and Economic Research in India.

The Policy Accelerator is designed to bring together the best of UK innovation policy expertise and capability, and connect it at a leadership level with innovation systems in India. It was an intense programme that gave Indian policymakers the opportunity to engage with strong consortium of UK innovation policy experts, including Nesta, the Manchester Institute of Innovation ResearchOxentia100%Open, Uscreates, and with UK practitioners from key institutions such as the Digital Catapult and the Policy Lab. I found the work of Policy Lab to be quite ‘out of the box’ as they operate like entrepreneurs within the constraints of government systems.

The week was filled with interesting activities, presentations, debates and discussions, enabling the participants to think about the future of innovation: from data, evaluation and evidence, to foresight methods, all the way through to design for policy approaches and stakeholder engagement techniques. As an observer, the week was a stimulating learning experience, being part of practical discussions with government officials to better understand and tackle their policy challenges.

The policymakers were split into two teams, based on central and state-level priorities. Each team was asked to build a Project Manifesto, answering six key questions: What, Why, Who, How, Where and When. The Manifesto is a tool designed to give a strategic rationale and the outline of a development plan for the projects the teams will complete together over the nine months of the Policy Accelerator, supported by coaches, mentors and experts from the UK.

The teams will return to the UK for another week-long training in early September 2018, building closer links with UK experts working on similar topics as to their chosen policy projects. By the end of Programme a Final Conference will be held, showcasing the strong innovation policy collaboration between the Indian and UK governments.

Overall, the programme for the week was engaging and helpful in both better understanding the UK’s innovation system and thinking through ways to improve the Indian innovation system. The best way to illustrate this might still be to hear it directly from participants, so below are just a few snippets from their feedback on the first milestone of this Programme:

“Innovation policy acceleration program has helped to streamline the thoughts and learnings from field experience that will lead to new line of thinking for policy making.”

– Ranjit Singh Deol, Managing Director, Maharashtra State Road Transport Corporation, Government of Maharashtra

“The GIPA Phase I module has helped us see beyond our own capabilities. It helped us question our beliefs and apply ourselves in new, better ways. With able guidance we received at GIPA London, we have set for ourselves a daunting project of getting innovation accepted as a normal policy tool in the Government of Maharashtra. If nothing else, this program has really shook us out of mediocrity and challenged us to achieve excellence by way of dedicated team work.”

– Ruchesh Jaivanshi, Commissioner for Persons with Disability, Government of Maharashtra

“We believe that innovation is a key to our success as a digital economy. To unleash the potential of innovation for addressing social challenges and to catalyse manufacturing and create a range of products and services that not only meet domestic needs but also address global demands, our participation in Global Innovation Policy Accelerator Programme (GIPA) was tremendous. It weaves together a large number of ideas and thoughts into a single, comprehensive vision, so that each of them is seen as part of a larger goal. We believe that our learning through GIPA programme will promote inclusive growth that covers products, devices, manufacturing and job opportunities in our country.”

 – Dr. Sanjeev Kumar Gupta, Scientist-C, International Cooperation Division, Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology, Govt. of India  

 “The GIPA – Week 1 training programme gave us the opportunity to learn techniques, and actionable concepts. It was a very insightful experience and terrific use of my time. Information acquired and skills learned during this period will greatly help me achieve my goals in work. I am thankful for having the opportunity to attend.” 

– Gaurav Sharma, Principal Research Scientist, Digital India Corporation, Ministry of Electronics & IT, Govt. of India

“It was a good experience to attend this “well designed” GIPA2018 Week#1 program. Some of the techniques used to “take creativity out” of each one of us were just amazing. Thank You NESTA team!!”

– Naveen Choudhary, Joint Director, ERNET (Education & Research Network), Ministry of Electronics & IT, Govt. of India

About Tamil Selvan Chandru

Tamil Selvan Chandru is the Science and Innovation Adviser based in British High Commission, New Delhi. He facilitates UK-India collaboration on Innovation through missions, visits and events in coordination with…

Tamil Selvan Chandru is the Science and Innovation Adviser based in British High Commission, New Delhi. He facilitates UK-India collaboration on Innovation through missions, visits and events in coordination with partners from both governments. He monitors and reports on developments in the area of innovation in India to bring useful insights to UK decision makers.

Previously, he was with European Business and Technology Centre where he developed in-depth knowledge of key clean technologies to deliver consultancy assignments to EU-based companies and researchers wanting to enter the Indian market, hereby closely cooperating with the EU Member States stakeholders. Tamil has over 5 years of experience in engineering and management profession working in France, UK, Singapore and India. He graduated his Masters in Electronics and Mechanical Engineering from Ecole Polytechnique de Tours and his MBA from University of Paris XII.

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